Prepared by: AS 06 Chapter 12:Groups and Interests What are the Characteristics of Interest Groups? How and why do Interest Groups Form? How Do Interest Groups Influence Policy Groups and Interests: The Dilemma of Reform Chapter Summary: Interest groups play a major role in making the United States a democracy. They can be based in around professions (AMA), industries (PHarma), labor groups (AFL-CIO), people with a common property right to protect, identity groups (AARP) or issues (NRDC). Though it is common for people to rail against interest groups generally, they serve an important function in aggregating people to voice their opinions, promote policy, and protect their rights.. This is done through lobbying in Congress and in the Courts (as in as Roe v. Wade and Brown v. the Board of Ed.) Interest groups also prevent the government from becoming a dictatorship or autocratic, as described in Federalist 10 (Madison): the way to fight factions is with factions to provide a competitive and democratic atmosphere. Interest groups use lobbying, litigation and ‘going public’ to get their interests met in the government. Lobbying is often depicted as wining and dining (and some of it probably is), or dangling offers of campaign contributions, but more common are efforts to educate legislators about a situation in a way that promotes the groups’ agenda. A main problem with groups is the collective action problem which involves free riding and the use of selective benefits to overcome the problem of free riding. It is notable that the majority of citizens active in interest groups are from the upper to middle class and therefore influence from other sectors of the population are under-represented. Critical Vocab/Concepts: Federalist 10 (fight factions with factions) * Informational Benefits Initiative Interest Group Lobbying Material Benefits Pluralism* Political Action Committee (PAC) Prisoner’s Dilemma* Purposive Benefits Solidary Benefits Big picture questions from this material: This chapter highlights and discusses lobbying which is directly connected with the more recent Jack Abramhoff Scandal which brings to light the corruption brought on by lobbying. If and when Congress will attempt to pass a lobbying reform bill. Chapter Notes: - Interest groups tend to concern themselves with the policies of gov’t; parties tend to concern themselves with the personnel of gov’t. - Interest groups enhance Democracy by educating members about issues that affect them, lobbying members of Congress and the executive branch, engaging in litigation, representing their members interests in the political arena and monitoring gov’t programs to make certain members aren’t adversely affected. FR? - A constitution that guarantees freedom is based on Pluralism- the theory that all interests are and should be free to compete for influence in the gov’t. The outcome of this competition is compromise and moderation. The theory of Federalist 10- by James Madison- the only way to fight factions is with more factions. MC li - Groups appeal to members by promoting political goals or policies that they favor but also by providing them with direct economic/social benefits as well as through social interaction and good fellowship. - Every group must build a financial structure capable of sustaining an organization, and funding activities and must have leadership and decision making structure. - Groups tend to have an upper class bias because members are drawn from middle/upper middle class b/c they have time, money and an education that provides concerns and skills to belong to groups ap - PRISIONER’S DILEMMA- provides the insight that rational behavior does not always lead to rational collective results (p. 517- chart that illustrates the dilemma). MC li ap - Mancur Olsen and free riding/selective benefits- small groups manage the problem of free riding better because the smaller group allows for everyone to know what everyone else is doing- these groups are considered privileged, whereas free riding is more frequent in large groups. - Types of selective benefits: Informational: special newsletters, periodicals, etc, that are provided to members to entice others to join in. Material: special goods or services or money provided to members to entice others to join. Solidary: selective benefits that emphasize friendship, networking and consciousness-raising. Purposive: selective benefits that emphasize the purpose and accomplishments of the group. - Lobbying- a lobbyist as defined in the 1946 Federal Regulation of Lobbying Act is a person who shall engage himself for pay or any consideration for the purpose of attempting to influence the passage/defeat of any legislation of the Congress of the US. (how interest groups influence policy chart on page 523) - 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act states that all organizations employing lobbyists are required to register with Congress and disclose whom they represent, whom they lobby, what they are lobbying for and how much they are paid. - 3 ways groups use the courts- bring the suit directly on behalf of the group itself to court, finance suits brought to court by individuals, or file and amicus curiae brief to an existing case- examples of this include- Griswold v. CT, Roe v. Wade and Brown v. Board of ED re ex - Groups donate to election campaigns through political action committees – limits have been placed by the Federal Election Campaign Act which limits campaign contributions and requires that each candidate/committee itemize the full name, address, occupation, and principal business of each person who contributes more than $100. After Watergate more reforms were enacted- and individual can donate no more than $2,000 to any candidate for federal office in any primary /general election and PAC’s cant give more than $5,000 as long as it contributes to at least 5 different candidates per year. - McCain-Feingold Bill of 1996 eliminated unrestricted “soft money” donations to national political parties. - Initiative- the process that allows citizens to propose new laws and submit them for approval by the state’s voters in a referendum.